Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board has moved to ensure that staff working at district and county council level are being trained to the same high standard in child protection. Nina Jacobs reports
Creating a framework for new statutory safeguarding duties can be daunting. County and district councils need to work in tandem, and involve partner agencies.
Last year, Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) held a workshop for the county council and five district councils to ensure everyone was working to the same aims and along the same lines.
“We were well placed to get the district councils involved – they were committed and it helped enormously,” says Dr Vic Tuck, the board’s development officer. “We had a long relationship with our county council and a strong associate member scheme so there were foundations on which to build.”
The next step was to consider how to help the councils fulfil their new safeguarding duty, brought in under section 11 of the Children Act 2004. “This included training, but also issues such as safe recruitment, who they need to go to if they have concerns or how they deal with independent contractors,” says Tuck. “I met with the district council where we continued to look at all those aspects.”
The board’s first accredited two-day training event for trainers later this year will involve other local organisations. “We’ve had a good response to our training and it’s something we are developing,” Tuck says.
A training pack for trainers in each council is also being produced. “It’s part of an effort to ensure that all child protection training is up to the standard we expect and we will be delivering it with an experienced trainer,” says Tuck.
The training agenda will be reinforced by mentoring and other forms of support from the board, factors that Tuck believes are crucial to its success. “Colleagues need support and mentoring. We need to ensure we can build their confidence and competence.”
Paul Chapman, policy officer at Stratford District Council, believes accessible contact with Tuck and Linda Village, the board’s training officer, is vital. “I can pick up the phone and speak to Vic and Linda they understand our situation.”
District councils have embraced the idea of joint working and representatives meet regularly to share work plans and expertise.
The scale on which child protection training must be rolled out to all council staff has led the board to carry out a training needs analysis. Information gathered will be used to create a training pool managed by the board’s training officer.
Tuck says the board identified 300 staff at Warwickshire District Council alone who will need child protection training. “That’s just one of five councils. It’s a major task for which you need a long-term strategy.”
Chapman says Stratford’s approach has been to deliver child protection training to about 30 of its managers. But with more than 300 staff to be trained, time has been well spent assessing individuals’ needs.
“Environmental health officers and housing officers don’t need child protection training as such. But we are going to work with them on awareness-raising,” Chapman says.
The board has also provided training to its associate member organisations. Plans to expand the scheme, particularly in the voluntary sector, will help deliver its training strategy to a much wider audience.
Tuck believes the ramifications of appointing district council children’s champions should be borne in mind. “They have made a huge difference. They needed to have that ownership at the highest level.”
WSCB now has a reputation as a forerunner in implanting the new safeguarding agenda. As Tuck puts it: “We have a clear focus about what we need to do and how we are going to go about it.”
* Provide mentoring and support for trainers. This builds confidence and competence.
* Avoid duplication. Create an accredited training day for trainers. Produce a training pack.
* Encourage district councils to meet regularly and share work plans.
* Carry out a training needs analysis. Understand the scale of the numbers of professionals requiring child protection training. Create a training pool.
* Expand your associate member scheme to ensure training strategies reach a wider audience.
This article appeared in the 3 May issue under the headline “Spread the word”